The Report from Vegas

JHW Hospitality Director, Melanie Spratford shares her impressions from this year's Catersource Conference & Tradeshow

We’re back from the Catersource conference and our heads are spinning with all the entertaining ideas, business concepts, and management theories! Here’s a quick recap of some of the suggestions that stood out:


Over and over again, speakers talked about the importance of clear and open communication. It’s crucial for sales associates talking to customers. It’s essential for conversations between chefs and sales managers. And it’s invaluable for family businesses trying to navigate around the generation gap. The whole conference was packed with ideas for facilitating communication at companies both large and small. Perhaps Bill Pannhoff of B&B Catering & Event Planning in Spring Lake, North Carolina said it best when he insisted that one of the responsibilities of a good leader is being a clear, effective communicator. I couldn’t agree more!


Author, speaker, and marketing guru Alan Berg from Kendall Park, New Jersey drew strong reactions from his audience when he offered suggestions for improving business cards and promotional brochures. Caterers are creative people and sometimes we get so caught up in aesthetics that we forget about practical things (I’m looking at you, lady who forgot to put her phone number on her business card!). He had a great tip about proof-reading your collateral materials with a checklist in hand so you don’t accidentally forget any key information.


Mike Roman, the founder of Catersource and arguably the best catering educator in the country, was a presence throughout the conference. I had the pleasure of attending his annual Roman Report which he packs with new idea and helpful suggestions. Mike’s lessons are always an excellent reminder to properly value our work.


Lastly, I am always interested in the questions attendees ask after each educational session. These questions are a great window into the topics that interest others. For example, a lively discussion broke out after Dan Joseph of Blue Plate in Chicago spoke about environmental sustainability. Caterers from across the country enthusiastically asked questions and shared ideas about how to push their companies to be more “green.” It’s encouraging to see that our industry is still committed to finding ways to protect the environment while also protecting the bottom line.


There were some great questions after our speaking engagements as well. Over the coming weeks, check back here as we address them in depth!


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